After receiving several rounds of applause, congratulatory handshakes and a proclamation from the mayor for her good deed at Monday’s council meeting, Rebecca Huntman said she was only doing what seemed natural.

Earlier this summer, Huntman became suspicious that two men in her neighborhood were up to no good. She kept an eye on them as she called police and sure enough, authorities caught the suspects as they were about to burglarize a nearby home. What’s more is that investigators were able to tie Huntman’s suspicious characters to several other break-ins, thus closing the book on a number of outstanding crimes.

In praising Huntman for her willingness to get involved, Mayor Anthony Calderone and Police Chief Jim Ryan used her story as a teaching moment. Too often, they said, neighbors are reluctant to call the police because they fear criminals may target them in retaliation. In Forest Park anyway, Calderone said he’s not aware of a single witness for whom that fear has been realized.

“If you want a safe community, you have to be an engaging public,” Calderone said of neighborly vigilance.

What may have come naturally for Huntman apparently does not for many others. To that end, law enforcement agencies often host community outreach events to build bridges with the public and on Aug. 5 such an event is taking place on Harrison Street. For more than two hours that evening, residents have an opportunity to get to know their neighborhood officers in a friendly setting as part of the 25th Annual National Night Out. There will be games for the kids, music, and photo opportunities. Most importantly though, National Night Out provides an incentive to turn off the television for a few hours and mingle with your neighbors.

Putting a face to the mailbox down the street – or with the squad car that patrols the block – could lead more of us to act as Huntman did.

Let’s help them build it

Another No Glove Tournament is in the books and this year’s weekend of games was made especially enjoyable by the announcement of the 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame. The discussion of where to house the museum’s collection has been ongoing for years, and just days before the tournament opened, members of the hall declared Forest Park will play host to the sport’s shrine. This community is certainly a fitting home for the museum and organizers made it clear they agree. One board member referred to the Park District’s facilities as the Wrigley Field of softball.

Money, of course, makes the world go round and fundraising for the estimated $500,000 project is set to get underway. Some $1,500 was donated by park volunteers during the tournament. It was a small but meaningful gesture and is hopefully indicative of the community’s support for this project.